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Ford Capri Mk. III

The Ford Capri was a British sports car built from 1962 until 1964 and later again from 1969 to 1986. The name was first applied to the Ford Consul Capri in 1962 and later to the Ford Capri in 1969. The Capri Mk. I and II were sold as the Mercury Capri in North America.

Ford Consul Capri

The Ford Consul Capri was a 2-door coupé version of the Ford Consul Classic saloon made by Ford of Britain from 1962-64. Codenamed the Sunbird, it took design influences from the American Ford Thunderbird and Ford Galaxie and was created to add glamour to the production line. Unfortunately, sales were a disappointment and the Consul Capri was dropped after just 2½ years and 19,421 cars. They are now very rare.

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Ford Capri Mk. I

The Ford Capri Mk. I was made from 1969-74. Although a fastback coupé, it was made to be affordable and to appeal to people who may not previously have been able to afford a sports car. The fact that it was affordable as well as being a fastback coupé meant that they made a fairly practical second car for a family. By 1970, Ford had sold 400,000 Capris and in 1972 the Capri received a facelift. The Capri was also very competitive in motor racing, particularly in Touring Car racing.

Because of the Capri's affordability, performance, popularity and availability to the masses, it is often referred to as the 'British Mustang'. In total, 1.2 million Mk. Is were sold.

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Ford Capri Mk. II

The Capri Mk. II was introduced in 1974 and ran until 1978. Following the 1973 Oil Crisis, Ford decided to make the Capri more suited to everday driving, so they gave the Mk. II a shorter bonnet, larger cabin and a hatchback. in 1975 a limited edition John Player Special Capri was introduced. It was aavailable in black or white with gold pinstriping and gold wheels to mimic the Formula 1 livery.

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Ford Capri Mk. III

The Capri Mk III was referred to internally as "Project Carla", and although little more than a substantial update of the Capri II, it was often referred to as the Mk III. The first cars were available in March 1978, but failed to halt a terminal decline in sales. The concept of a heavily facelifted Capri II was shown at the 1976 Geneva show: a Capri II with a front very similar to the Escort RS2000 (with four headlamps and black slatted grille), and with a rear spoiler, essentially previewed the model some time before launch. The Mk III featured improved aerodynamics, leading to improved performance and economy over the Mk II and the trademark quad headlamps were introduced.

At launch the existing engine and transmission combinations of the Capri II were carried over, with the 3.0 S model regarded as the most desirable model although the softer Ghia derivative with automatic, rather than manual transmission, was the bigger seller of the two V6-engined models.

Ford began to focus their attention on the UK Capri market as sales declined, realising the car had something of a cult following there. Unlike sales of the contemporary 4-door Cortina, Capri sales in Britain were to private buyers who would demand less discounts than fleet buyers allowing higher margins with the coupé. Ford tried to maintain interest in 1979 with Ford Rallye Sport, Series X, "X Pack" options from the performance oriented RS parts range. Although expensive and slow selling these proved that the press would enthusiastically cover more developed Capris with higher performance.

Despite being the most popular sporting model in Britain for most of its production life, the third generation Capri was also one of the most stolen cars in Britain during the 1980s and early 1990s, being classified as "high risk" of theft in a Home Office report.

The 3.0 S was used extensively in the TV series The Professionals, with characters Bodie driving a silver 3.0 S and Doyle a gold 3.0 S, which was credited with maintaining interest in the car in the UK.

2.8 Injection models

In 1981, the 3.0 V6 powerplant was dropped from the line-up, while a new sporty version debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, called the 2.8 Injection. The new model was the first regular model since the RS2600 to use fuel injection. Power rose to 160 PS (118 kW) giving a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph), but the car still had a standard four-speed gearbox. The Capri 2.8 Injection breathed new life into the range and kept the car in production 2–3 years longer than Ford had planned. The four-speed gearbox was replaced with a five-speed unit early on – at the same time Ford swapped the dated looking chequered seats for more luxurious looking velour trim. A more substantial upgrade was introduced in 1984 with the Capri Injection Special. This development used half leather seating and included a limited slip differential. Externally the car could be easily distinguished by seven spoke RS wheels (without the customary "RS" logo since this was not an RS vehicle) and color-coded grille and headlamp surrounds. At the same time the 2.0 Capri was rationalised to one model the 2.0 S, which simultaneously adopted a mildly modified suspension from the Capri Injection. The 1.6 model was also reduced to one model, the 1.6 LS.

2.8 Turbo

From July 1981 to Sept 1982, German RS dealers marketed a limited edition, Zakspeed inspired, left-hand drive only, 'Werksturbo' model with 190 PS (140 kW), which could propel the car to 220 km/h (137 mph). Based on a 3.0 S, this derivative featured widened bodywork, front and rear 'Ford Motorsport' badged spoilers, deep 7.5j four-spoked RS alloy wheels and an RS badged engine. The engine was based on a normally aspirated 2.8-litre V6, Ford Granada (Europe) engine. Figures of around 200 produced examples are common, but numbered transmission tunnels possibly indicate 155 conversions were made.

Tickford Turbo

The Tickford Capri used a turbocharged 2.8 Injection Cologne engine which developed 205 hp (153 kW), allowing it to reach 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds and 100 miles per hour in 13.4 seconds, topping out at 140 miles per hour. This version also featured a luxury interior with optional full leather retrim and Wilton carpeting and headlining, large rear spoiler, colour-coded front grille, deeper bumpers and 'one off' bodykit designed by Simon Saunders, later of KAT Designs and now designer of the Ariel Atom.

Rear disc brakes were standard on the Tickford, which featured numerous other suspension modifications. This model was essentially rebuilt by hand by Tickford at approximately 200 hours per car. It sold fewer than 100 units. One problem was the relative price difference to the standard Capri Injection, with the Tickford version costing twice as much.

Turbo Technics conversions

Independent tuner Turbo Technics also released a turbocharged 200 hp (149 kW) and 230 hp (172 kW) evolution which came supplied with a specially built gearbox. The Tickford Capri pricing issues meant that Ford also sanctioned the Turbo Technics conversion as semi-official, although only the German RS and British Tickford ever appeared in Ford literature as official Ford products.

Capri Laser

From November 1984 onwards, the Capri was sold only in Britain, with only right hand drive cars being made from this date. The normally aspirated 1.6 and 2.0 variants were rebranded with a new trim level – "Laser" – which featured a fully populated instrument pod, leather gear lever, leather steering wheel, four-spoke alloy wheels as used on the S models, an electric aerial and colour-coded grille and mirrors.

Capri 280

The last run limited edition "Brooklands" Green, 280 model, featuring a limited slip differential, full leather Recaro interior and 15 inch versions of the seven spoke 13 inch wheels fitted to the superseded Capri Injection Special. Ford originally intended to make 500 turbo charged vehicles (by Turbo Technics) complete with gold alloy wheels and name it the Capri 500 but a change of production planning meant a name change to Capri 280 as the cars were simply the last models that ran down the production line. A total of 1,038 Capri 280s were built.

When the last Capri was made on 19 December 1986, 1,886,647 cars had rolled off the production lines. Production had ended at Halewood, UK in 1976 and the Capri was made exclusively in Germany from 1976 to 1986. Most of those (more than a million) were the Mk I, because the Mk I sold well in North America and Australia, while the Mk II and Mk III were only exported outside Europe (to Asia and New Zealand) in limited numbers.

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Outside Europe

North America

Mercury Capri

From 1970 to 1978, the Capri was sold in North America through Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division. All were German-produced. Headlamps were four round sealed-beams, and turn signal lamps were grill-mounted on all US-spec 1971–74 Capris and 1976–78 Capri IIs. Ford hood letters were replaced with Capri letters, and a trunk-mounted Mercury script was added. Full instrumentation wasn't available on 1971–72 four-cylinder models but was made standard equipment from 1973 on. An optional interior decor package, changed by name to the "Ghia" package for the Capri II, featured deluxe interior trim and features. 1973 Ford Capris were the Mk I face-lift models featuring the new grill, larger taillights and new interior and dash. The 1973 model had the federally mandated 5 mph front bumper for '73. The bumper was extended, the gap closed with a silver filler panel. 1974 models had larger bumpers front and rear with wraparound urethane, body-color bumper covers to meet the revised Federal front and rear 5 mph standard. 1976–78 models were the re-designed hatchback models offered worldwide since 1974, fitted with the grill-mounted turn signal lamps and the required round sealed-beam headlamps, 5 mph body-color bumpers and catalytic converter, requiring no-lead fuel. In 1976, an 'S' (JPS) special edition featured black or white paint with gold-coloured wheels, gold pin-striping, and upgraded two-tone interior in beige and black. Due to late production of Capri IIs, there were no 1975 models sold in the USA.

Originally, Cologne-built Capris imported to North America were fitted only with the British 1600 OHV (1.6 L), 64 hp (48 kW) Kent engine with the four-speed manual transmission. The 1971 Capri offered the Kent-built 1600 I4 and the optional, Cologne-built OHC 2000 (2.0 L) I4 engine for improved performance with 101 hp (75 kW). An optional three-speed automatic transmission was made available with the 2000 I4 engine. In 1972–73, the 2000 I4 became the standard engine, and an OHV 2600 (2.6 L) Cologne V6 was optional, which produced 120 hp (89 kW). The 1600 I4 was dropped. For 1974, new engines were used—the OHC 2300 (2.3 L) I4 and OHV 2800 (2.8 L) Cologne V6; producing 88 hp (66 kW) and 105 hp (78 kW) respectively. The engines were carried over for the 1976–77 Capri ll hatchback models, although the V6's power had crept up to 109 hp (81 kW) at 4,800 rpm. The last Capris were brought in 1977 although sales of leftovers continued into 1978. Capri sales had slid considerably by the time of the introduction of the Capri II, and the high price contributed to ending sales of German-built Capris in the US.

In 1979, no longer importing the Ford Capri, but capitalising on the model's positive image, Mercury dealers began selling a new Capri that was a re-styled Ford Mustang. It was initially available with an 88 hp (66 kW), 2.3 L 4, 2.8 L V6 and 302 (5.0 L) V8. The 2.8 L V6 was phased out very early in the 1980 model year and the 3.3 L (200 cu in) I6 replaced it. The 3.3 L I6 would be phased out in 1983 for a 3.8 L V6 with a carburetor and then CFI fuel injection in 1984. In 1984, the Capri was available with a 175 hp (130 kW) turbocharged 2.3 L four-cylinder engine or a 175 hp (130 kW) 302 V8. While lighter than the V8 model, the Capri Turbo lacked the torque of the V8 and suffered from turbo lag, making it slower. Next year, the V8 was rated at 210 hp (157 kW) and the turbo model was dropped. After 1986, the US-built Mercury Capri was dropped.

In 1991, a new Mercury Capri was introduced, this model being fully imported from Australia (see below). It was a convertible with four seats, front-wheel drive and a 100 hp (75 kW) four-cylinder 1.6 L engine. It was also available with a 132 hp (98 kW) 1.6 turbo engine. Both versions were dropped after 1994.

Australia

Mk I

The Ford Motor Company of Australia manufactured the European-designed Mk I Capri at its plant in the Sydney suburb of Homebush from 1969 until 1972. The Capri was offered to the Australian market from 3 May 1969, as the 1600 Deluxe and the 1600 GT, using the 1.6 L Ford Kent OHV engine. On 25 February 1970, the 3000 GT was launched, equipped with the 3.0 L Ford Essex V6. At the same time the 1600 GT became the 1600 XL while the 1600 Deluxe remained unchanged.

In November 1972, production of the Capri ended in Australia, with a total of 15,122 vehicles having been made. In 1973, Ford Australia imported fifty Capri RS3100 models. Neither the Mk I facelift Capri nor the subsequent Mk II and Mk III models were ever produced in Australia.

SA30

Model Released Turbo version
SA Capri 2D Convertible October 1989 Yes
SA Series II Capri 2D Convertible October 1990 Yes
SC Capri XR2 2D Convertible April 1992 Yes
SC Capri Clubsprint 2D Convertible July 1992 Yes
SC Capri Barchetta 2D Convertible November 1992 No
SE Capri Barchetta 2D Convertible August 1993 No
SE Capri XR2 2D Convertible August 1993 Yes
SE Capri Clubsprint 2D Convertible August 1993 Yes

The Ford Capri name was revived in Australia in 1989. The Australian Capri, codenamed the SA30, was an entry point convertible. It used Mazda 323 engines and mechanicals which Ford Australia had adopted as the basis of the Laser. It had a body shell designed by Ghia and an interior by ItalDesign. Ironically during development of the Capri, Mazda was developing the MX-5, a vehicle that although considerably more expensive is commonly considered its direct competitor. Two models were originally offered: a standard SOHC 61 kW 1.6-litre EFI model, and a turbocharged variant DOHC 100 kW 1.6-litre EFI.

The Australian-built Capri was intended primarily for export to the US. Exports began in 1991, as the Mercury Capri, A total of 66,279 Capri convertibles was built by Ford Australia; of those 9,787 were sold in Australia. The media played that the car was plagued by quality problems and recalls, although many still exist today perhaps due to the mechanical robustness of the Laser/323 upon which it was based.

The retail price of a US-specification Capri in the US was less than the retail price of an Australian specification Capri in Australia. Approximately 90% of production was exported to the US and the increased shipping costs were offset by the reduced cost of manufacturing the "mainstream" left-hand-drive model compared with the small volume right hand drive model for the Australian market.

The 1989–94 Capri was assessed in the Used Car Safety Ratings 2006 as providing "worse than average" protection for its occupants in the event of a crash. It was also highly criticised as commonly having leaking roof problems, even after multiple replacements from Ford dealerships. This was eventually resolved by a new roof sealing system, and 100% testing in the factory

South Africa

Mk I

Ford of South Africa assembled the Capri from 1970 to 1972 with a similar model range to the UK. No facelift models or RS variants were marketed in South Africa.

About 500 Capris were converted by specialist Basil Green Motors to run the 302 Ford Windsor V8 engine. These models were known as the Capri Perana and were very successful in local touring car events, winning the 1970 South African championship and, in a different format, the 1971 championship as well.

No Mk II and Mk III Capris were exported to, or built in South Africa.

Zakspeed

Zakspeed extensively modified Capris which proved very successful in motor racing in the 1980s.

In Media

  • Del Boy drove a green Capri MkIII in the later episodes of Only Fools and Horses as well as his Reliant Regal.
  • The Capri also found fame in The Professionals. In the first 1978 season a highly unusual X-pack MkII 3.1-litre in silver appeared briefly in Ray Doyle's (Martin Shaw) hands, while William Bodie (Lewis Collins) drove a bronze 3.0-litre Ghia. In the second '78 season Bodie had a silver MkIII 3.0S and Doyle switched to an Escort. For '80 and '81 Bodie and Doyle used a variety of gold and silver Capri 3.0Ss.
  • Dennis Waterman's character, Terry McCann, drove three Capri MkIIs in Minder. The first was a 2.0S shown in the opening credits for the first seven series.
  • It has also put in several appearances in other TV shows like Ashes to Ashes.

Specials

Evolution of the Ford Capri

  • Ford Cousul Capri
  • Ford Capri Mark I
  • Ford Capri Mark II
  • Ford Capri Mark III
v · d · e
Ford of Britain vehicles

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